Ahh ukulele strings. The bane of uke and musical instrument discussion forums worldwide. Still, we all have our favourites and love checking out new releases. I've therefore been lucky to be sent an advance sample of a brand new line of ukulele strings developed by Aquila. Say hello to the new Aquila 'Sugar' strings.
An initial health warning that those of you who regularly read my site will already know. This is NOT a string review. I stopped doing those many many years ago, because it's utterly pointless. What I like is merely what I like, and you may not (and vice versa). Trust your own ears! Anyway, with that out of the way, it is fair to say I see a LOT of ukuleles and as such have played a large amount of strings. So if nothing else, this is just my take on them as something brand new to the market.
So.... sugar. What's that all about. Well these are made from sugar. Not sugar as in the granulated stuff you put on your cornflakes, but rather a bio plastic that is developed from an extract of Sugar Cane. Interesting. Aquila claim that they have the benefit of the warmth of nylon combined with the brightness of Fluorocarbon and are good for vibrato. Also interesting.
Packaging wise they are just like other Aquilas. An attractive, eco friendly paper wallet that opens out to release the strings. Incidentally if you ever wondered why there is an eagle on the Aquila logo, Aquila is the Italian word for Eagle, and Aquila is run by Mimmo Peruffo in Caldogno near Vicenza. Unlike other Aquilas though, whilst they are similarly colour coded for the different gauges, they are actually not in colour coded wallets, rather the tips of the strings themselves are painted. Neat.
Looking at them I can tell they are different to regular nylons and fluoro strings. It's hard to say why but they kind of look more glassy and clearer if that is possible. On feel when unwinding them too they feel a bit stiffer and less 'plasticky' for want of a better word. These ones on test are now replacing some Martin Fluorocarbons I had on my Rob Collins mahogany soprano. One thing I can say for certain is that the gauges are quite a bit fatter than Martin strings, particularly noticeable on the C and E strings.
Strung up and my impressions are favourable. I don't tend to use regular Aquila strings as I don't care for the feel of nylguts on my fingers, but these feel very like fluorocarbons to me. And whilst they have a brightness, they are also mellower than the strings they replaced giving a nice overall rounded tone. Sustain and volume from them are also excellent.
One other element that it noticeably good is how good they sound up the neck. Often strings (and ukuleles) can lose something when playing up the 'dusty end' as the higher notes carry less power and sustain. These are terrific and remain clear as a bell no matter how high up you play.
Have a listen
I think I may be looking at these ones again, and as always, full marks to Aquila for being brave enough to keep developing new materials. Well worth a look i'd say.
These will shortly be available in Aquila stockists with an expected RRP of £8.99. They are coming in all the regular sizes, and will have low G options too. And thanks to Sutherland Trading for the early sample.
© Barry Maz
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